Christianity is Like a House

Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Some have suggested Christian doctrine (the Bible) is fluid and subject to change. It doesn’t really matter if we believe differently as long as we all come under the tent as Christians. After all, God loves everyone. Some even go as far as to suggest the sins we’ve known from Scripture to be sins since Christ walked the earth and even before are not really than bad. We need to adjust our beliefs according to the culture we live in. We need to examine each belief, not according to the Bible, but according to what we feel is right.

The problem with this is God’s Word is not a smorgasbord where you can chose to eat the chicken and skip the steak as some suggest. Matthew 7 likens the Christian life to building a house. We need to get the foundation right or the house is in danger.

That foundation is the Word of God. Matthew makes this clear. Those who use the foundation of the Word of God is like a man who built his house on the rock. The house won’t fall away when the storms come. But what is the Word of God.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word of God is the Bible, but it is more than a book. It is the very words of God. Still more, it points us to Christ. In John 1, the Bible says the Word is God, the Christ. The Word of God is the foundation, and Christ is the chief cornerstone.

Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Fully God and Fully Man, who was there with God, as God, at the creation of the world. He is the One who the Bible is about. He is the central figure of all creation. He is the Kingdom of God, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, the Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world, and the Lion who is ruler of all.

Let’s go back to that doctrinal house. When we take stones or bricks out of the foundation we don’t like, we weaken the structure. We can say, “I don’t like this stone, but it’s okay because I have all those other stones are there. Every stone we remove weakens the structure further. Every misunderstanding or falsity about who Christ really is will cause the whole structure to crumble. It’s inevitable.

When we build the church and our lives on a firm foundation, Christianity and our spiritual lives will thrive. Are you building on a firm foundation?

Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

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Top Ten Verse about Joy

6871b-joyThere is a teaching out there that the joy God gives is not really joyful. The teaching goes on to say joy is not really being happy. It’s not an emotion. While it is true the joy God gives is not the same as the human emotion of happiness, it is not true that God doesn’t care about our happiness. He wants us to be happy, but He wants us to find that happiness and satisfaction in Him. Here are my 10 favorite scripture passages about joy. They are in The Passion Translation unless otherwise stated.

1 Peter 1:8-9 You love him passionately although you did not see him, but through believing in him you are saturated with an ecstatic joy, indescribably sublime and immersed in glory. For you are reaping the harvest of your faith—the full salvation promised you—your souls’ victory!

Romans 15:13 Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!

Isaiah 35:10 (ESV) And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Psalm 30:5 I’ve learned that his anger lasts for a moment, but his loving favor lasts a lifetime! We may weep through the night, but at daybreak it will turn into shouts of ecstatic joy.

Psalm 119:2 What joy overwhelms everyone who keeps the ways of God, those who seek him as their heart’s passion!

Psalm 16:11 (ESV) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 28:7 You are my strength and my shield from every danger. When I fully trust in you, help is on the way. I jump for joy and burst forth with ecstatic, passionate praise! I will sing songs of what you mean to me!

Philippians 3:1 My beloved ones, don’t ever limit your joy or fail to rejoice in the wonderful experience of knowing our Lord Jesus!

Psalm 100:1-2 Lift up a great shout of joy to the Lord! Go ahead and do it—everyone, everywhere! As you serve him, be glad and worship him. Sing your way into his presence with joy!

Romans 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Seven Ways Your Life Can Be Like an Adventure Novel

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

When I was young, I loved to read anything I could get my hands on, but my favorite types of stories were adventures where an ordinary young person was thrust on a quest of epic proportions. These stories resonant with us for a reason. We all want to think our lives count for something, no matter how insignificant they may seem. We all want to live a life of purpose that is somehow bigger than anything we can see.

We may not realize it, but God has written an epic adventure for each of our lives. According to Jeremiah 29:11, He has plans and purposes for us to give us a hope and a future. If we cooperate with His plans, God will use each of us in ways we never dreamed. Here are seven ways your life is like an adventure novel.

You are not insignificant to God. No matter where you are, or how life has treated you, God knows your name, and He knows where you live. He put you there for a purpose to fulfill your destiny. The Bible, the greatest adventure story of them all, is filled with seemingly insignificant people who do great things for God. David, Gideon, and many of the disciples make that list. Hebrews 11, the heroes of the faith chapter, doesn’t even name some of the heroes it who it says the world was not worthy of.

Super Hero Boy Ready to FlyA Quest Has Obstacles. We’d all love to have more adventure in our lives provided we don’t have to go through any pain or face any obstacles, but every adventure story has insurmountable obstacles the hero must overcome. We have obstacles to face as well. Whenever we read adventure novels, we know the main characters will overcome those obstacles even though we can’t figure out how. When we face obstacles, we have a promise from God that He has overcome the world.

The hero is pure in heart. The hero in an adventure story will make mistakes, He’ll get discouraged. He’ll make wrong turns. But he won’t give up because he has a heart to do right and make a difference. To be the hero of God’s adventure, you also need a pure heart, a heart after God. God called King David a man after His own heart. David wasn’t perfect. He committed grievous sins. But he was also quick to repent because he wanted a pure heart.

A hero is loyal. Every quest has a hero who is loyal to both his friends and to the quest. He won’t give up on either. We need that kind of loyalty to God and to the quest He has sent us on if we are to fulfill what He’s called us to do. So many give up on God or on the adventure He’s called them to because things get hard.No matter how hard things get, remember that God is writing your story. Don’t give up.

A hero puts others above himself. In adventure novels, a hero is self-sacrificing. He pours out his life for others and is even willing to die for them. As Christians in God’s adventure story, we should also be willing to place others before ourselves.

Our happy ending isn’t here on Earth. Adventure novels always have happy endings. Even if the hero dies in the end, he always fulfills his quest. It doesn’t seem to work out that way in real life, but this isn’t all there is. Our quest isn’t over when we die. Our happy ending is in eternity when we will live forever in the presence of God.

Two Reactions to Christ’s Coming

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Advent is a Latin word meaning coming. We use it at Christmas to show Christ’s first coming as a baby in a manger. When Christ came to Earth the first time, there were two reactions: joy and anger.

Joy: Christmas is all about joy. One of the most popular songs of the Christmas season is Joy to the World. Joy is a natural reaction to the coming of Christ.

The angels were joyful.

Luke 2:10-14 ESV And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,’Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”

The shepherds were filled with joy.

Luke 2:20.ESV “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

The wise men had great joy.

Matthew 2:10-11 ESV “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

Anger: Not everyone was filled with joy at Christ’s coming just as not everyone is joyful when Christ is offering to come into their lives today. some reacted in anger.

Herod tried to kill Him.

Matthew 2:16 ESV  “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”

 The Pharisees did kill Him.

Matthew 12:14 NIV “But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.”

Then He rose again. It should not surprise us some react to Christ in anger and rage. It has always been that way, but the reason for the joy of the Christmas season is found in Isaiah 9.

Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7 ESV

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder, and his name shall be calledWonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

The Christ who came at Christmas as a baby wants to come into your life today with abundant joy.

I wish you a very Merry and Joyful Christmas this year!

10 Reason I Don’t Feel Guilty for Being Joyful at Christmas

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

There is a trend among Christians to try to make people feel guilty for being joyful at Christmas time. Some even say that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, but I refuse to allow their naysaying to rob me of my joy. Here are 10 reason to feel joyful at Christmas without feeling the slightest bit of guilt for it.

10. We can be joyful even when things aren’t great. The Bible says we should count it all joy. In other words, even if we are going through a hard time because of a death in the family or because of hard times, we can still be joyful. The word count could probably be better translated command. We can command ourselves to be joyful. What if it’s is someone else who is going through a hard time? This is often an excuse for not being joyful at Christmas. After all, look at all the terrible things happening in people’s lives. I have a suggestion for you. Are you in the right frame of mind to help someone else when you are in a place of joy or a place of depression. I would suggest we are better equipped in a place of joy.

James 1:2-3 ESV “Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

9. We owe it to those around us to be joyful. Have you ever been around somebody who suck the joy of living out of everyone around him. Joy is contagious, but so is depression. That means if you decide not to be joyful, you affect everyone around you, and if you decide you will be joyful, it will also affect your friends and family. Refuse to allow someone’s bad mood to affect you. Instead be the one who heals those who don’t have joy.

Proverbs 17:22 ESV “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

8. Joy makes us healthy. If it’s true that stress and depression cause us harm physically, it’s also true that a joyful heart with make you healthy. That is why Proverbs 17:22 calls a joyful heart good medicine. Medical professionals have proven laughter is beneficial to our overall health. You can read more about it at this link.

7. Joy will give you spiritual and emotional strength. We receive fullness of joy in the presence of God, and His joy will give us the strength we need to do all the things that stress us out during the day.

Psalm 16:11 ESV “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

6. Who Want to Be a Scrooge? I sure don’t, but some Christians act like that’s exactly what they want. They claim they can’t celebrate Christmas because it’s too commercial and most people don’t celebrate it with the right motives. Who told you you can’t be joyful because other people have the wrong motives? That’s silly. Think about some of the people in the past who wanted to kill other people’s joy at Christmas: Scrooge and the Grinch. Do you really want to be like them? You may say they are mythical characters, and that is true, but they represent those who are like them.

The first man who wanted to destroy the joy of Christmas tried to kill Christ. His name was Herod, and he was not a joyful person. Herod killed his wife, two of his sons, and his wife’s extended family because he thought they were trying to usurp his authority as king. Talk about an unhappy person. He tried to kill Christ and Christmas by ordering all the male children of Bethlehem two years and under to be slaughtered.

Matthew 2:16 ESV  “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”

5. The angels were joyful at Chist’s birth. They sang and proclaimed how Christ’s birth brought great joy to the Earth. Truthfully, we don’t really know what day Christ was born, and there is controversy about how December 25th was chosen. I don’t care. I know Christ was born, and I don’t know when. So unless someone comes to me with a definitive answer about what day Christ was born, I’m going to celebrate His birth on December 25th with as much exuberance and joy as the angels did.

Luke 2:10-14 ESV And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,’Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'”

4. The shepherds were filled with joy. Everyone was happy when Christ was born, even lowly shepherds. If they can be happy even with smelly sheep, I will be happy with the privileged awesome life God has given me.

Luke 2:20.ESV “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”


3. I’m happy because of presents.
They don’t have to be expensive presents. They can be homemade. The thing is I love to receive presents, and I love to give presents because it reminds me of the joy the Wise Men felt when they saw Jesus and gave Him gifts. They were so joyful they worshipped Him. Our praise and worship comes from the joy we feel about Christ who is God’s gift to us.
Matthew 2:10-11 ESV “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

2. I’m filled with joy when I hear Christmas hymns. Have you ever listened to the words of those hymns. They are songs of worship, and everyone sings them at Christmas – even heathens. What a great time to worship the Lord with songs.

Isaiah 12:6 ESV Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

1. I am joyful because Christ is my salvation. If Christ had not been born, He would have not died for my sins, not would He have raised from the dead defeating sin and death on my behalf. I am beyond joyful because Christmas lead to Easter.
1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

 

5 Things to Help You be Thankful in Tough Times

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

It’s easy to thank God when everything is going right, but God wants us to have a thankful attitude no matter what because He has blessed us. At the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims had a feast to thank God for His many blessings when they were going through a difficult time. Half of the people who traveled over on the Mayflower died the first winter. Yet they still set aside time to thank God because they knew they were blessed by Jesus dying on the cross for their sins. Here are 5 things we can do to be thankful in hard times.

Bring our hurts to God. Everyone goes through hard times. The reason some people get though them relatively unscathed is because they bring their hurt and pain to God instead of worrying about them and trust in Him to heal them. God didn’t only promise physical heal but emotional healing as well.

Phi 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Rehearse the blessing of God. Use a journal to write what God has done for you. Go over it when you can’t remember the blessings of God.

Psalm 103:1-2  Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Despair Or Hope Directions On A SignpostTake your thoughts captive. Joyce Meyer has a saying that you need to think about what you’re thinking about. That’s true. Many times we aren’t thankful because we dwell on negative thoughts that pop into our heads instead of focusing on the good things God has done for us.

2 Corinthians 10:5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Read God’s Promises in Scripture. The way to have enough faith to be thankful is to spend time reading the promises of God. He is faithful to His promises.

Isaiah 55:9-11 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Spend time praising God each day. In the prayer Jesus taught His disciples, he began and ended with praise. If we want to have a thankful attitude, we need to spend time praising God every day and not only telling Him our needs.

Psalm 148:5  Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.

Have a thankful Thanksgiving.

God’s Wonderful World, Scenes and Imagination

by Carole Brown

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. –the Bible

As an author, I marvel at the sights of this beautiful planet. My imagination soars with the heights and floats with the breeze and waves. I imagine my established characters, and sometimes new ones, in these scenes.

Pictures and scenes are one of the greatest ways to foster ideas. I take LOTS of pictures in our travels. Some of them have made it into videos of my books. Others serve to keep my mind agile and brisk with ideas. 

Tell me, what kind of story ideas do these pictures give you?

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Do you see a young couple hiking in the northwest? What troubles do they stumble into? A dead body? A raging fire? Kidnapping? Finding themselves with new purpose? Do you imagine a family camping here and encountering wild creatures? Fishing? Hunting? Or can you see something entirely different?

For this one: I imagine one that I’ve begun and have yet to finish: 

Set in Mexico, in a missionary setting, a young girl meets two very different impressive men, but which one is the right one–for her? Then, she must also figure out which one is the drug lord… Can she do both–and survive?

 

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What do you imagine here happening?

An Amish story? an 1800s novel? A wagon train passing through? Or perhaps a country farm setting with a wife who dabbles in mystery problems in the nearby town?

To me, I can see another story,  I’ve begun and hope to finish soon, set during the late 1800s, Destiny and Michael riding their horses through one of the fields he owns, arguing, both strong people who must decipher whose father was the gold thief and find love in the midst of their suspicions.

 

Forest for Cara2

In this one, what does this scene depict in your mind?

A scary situation? Mystery? A lost child? Can you feel the terror? Do crazy thoughts of someone jumping out at you lurk in your imagination? Can you see children in an adventure book strolling this path?

To me, I can see in my Alex and Denton Davies series, the two of them walking this semi-dark woodland pathway, searching for clues or chasing after a suspect.

 

entry way free

And one last one to stir your creative juices…

Does this bring to mind a warm, cozy feeling? Can you see an abominable snowmen lurking close by? Or can you see a couple meeting on the ski slopes? A family adventure? A lonely older person meeting his soul mate? 

I see a mountain lodge where a female detective looks for a psycho suspect and runs smack dab into a love she hadn’t planned on. But can she find the bad person…and keep the love?

 

 

Can you see how we can use pictures and images to further our writing, to increase our creative juices, to spur us to keep writing, and to give us the encouragement we need when we’re stumped?

Take advantage of everything and all things that keep you writing.

Tell me, what do YOU see in these pictures? What do you use to sit down at your writing desk and add a few more pages to your document?